It's nearly here folks. After watching political ads for more than a year, the 2016 presidential election is just a tad over three weeks away. On Nov. 8, Americans from across our great country will head to the polls to decide whether or not to send Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, or Republican candidate Donald Trump, to the Oval Office. Regardless of who wins, we're going to see history made with either the first female president, or the first person with no political or military background, becoming our next president.
But whoever ascends to the Oval Office come January is going to have a mighty tough task ahead of them. Growth rates in the U.S. have been subpar over the past couple of quarters, and the American people will be looking for our 45th president to have a plan to reignite economic growth.
Hillary Clinton believes she has that plan for America. With that being said, we're going to take a just-the-facts look at 10 ways Hillary Clinton could grow the U.S. economy if elected.
1. Simplify and cut small business taxes
Hillary Clinton has positioned herself as a champion of the working class during this election, and one of the primary ways she plans to grow the economy is by focusing on the small business cornerstone of the U.S. economy. Clinton would aim to standardize tax deductions for small businesses, and would also angle to cut the licensing restrictions that inhibit small business creation.
According to Fundera, between mid-2009 and mid-2013, 60% of all jobs were created by small businesses, and the Social Security Administration currently lists 28.8 million small businesses in the U.S., employing nearly 57 million people. That accounts for 99.7% of all businesses in the United States. Presumably, reducing expenses for small businesses and expediting the launch of new small businesses could be a big boon to the economy.
2. Investment in 21st century "net-centric warfare"
Republicans may be known as the big spenders when it comes to defense, but Clinton has pledged to step up investment in what she calls "net-centric warfare" innovations. As technology advances, threats are coming from more than just military installations. Clinton's plan to step up investments in cybersecurity and other internet-based threats could lead to substantial growth in the defense and tech sectors.
3. Major investments in transportation and energy infrastructure
It's no secret that America's infrastructure is aging, but Clinton believes she has a plan to both fix the problem and create jobs. Among the points presidential hopeful Clinton lists on her campaign website are to prudently repair roads and bridges, invest in airport modernization in order to save passengers time and airlines money, and update certain aspects of energy infrastructure, such as dams, levees, and wastewater systems.
4. "Make it in America" investments
Investments in the U.S. manufacturing industry also come front-and-center for Hillary Clinton. She's emphasizing a $10 billion investment, known as "Make it in America," on her campaign website that'll bring workers, corporations, universities, and government together to keep jobs, profits, and products in America. Clinton has also proposed creating tax incentives that would encourage investment in communities that are facing substantial manufacturing job losses.
At the same time, Clinton wants to ensure that American workers get a fair deal when it comes to trade. She's opposed the currently unratified Trans-Pacific Partnership.
5. Emphasize childhood education funding
Fifth, Clinton plans to make large investments in education. As a 2014 Pew Research study has shown, a four-year college education for millennials aged 25-to-32 resulted in median annual income (in 2012 dollars) of $45,500 compared to just $28,000 for high school graduates of the same age. Starting early is important, and Clinton has a number of initiatives she'd like to see implemented.
For example, Clinton would make preschool universal for all four-year-olds, she'd double investment in the Early Head Start and Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership, and she'd create the Respect and Increased Salaries for Childhood Educators (RAISE) initiative in an effort to increase pay for early educators and child care providers.
6. Reform housing policies
A home is arguably the largest purchase Americans will ever make, but Clinton recognizes that the deck is largely stacked against American families owning a home. If elected president, she proposes offering a funding match of up to $10,000 in savings for working families looking to put a down payment on a first home. Her plan also includes counseling support so families are fully aware of the financial obligations of home ownership. Although a primary home is not historically a great investment, it does tend to be a store of value in that it usually keeps pace with inflation.
For those Americans who remain renters, Clinton plans to boost incentives to encourage the development of affordable housing.
7. Focus on rural community investment
Clinton's economic growth plan also targets rural America. Clinton plans to boost broadband access to all rural communities (including Wi-Fi access for all American households), and she would expand the New Markets Tax Credit, which should spur investment in rural communities that are heavily reliant on one company or industry and could be facing an economic shift or plant closure. Rural America's pocketbook may also benefit from alternative energy and fossil fuel conservation.
8. Build upon the ACA's success
Easily one of the starkest contrasts between the two presidential candidates, Clinton plans to keep the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in place, whereas Donald Trump would repeal and replace it. Clinton's healthcare add-ons would target expansion of the Medicaid programs in the 19 states that chose not to expand, and possibly higher reimbursements for rural community residents who often struggle to find affordable healthcare plans due to their distance from quality health clinics.
A healthier America, combined with proposed investments in Alzheimer's research and autism, could be a boon for the healthcare industry.
9. Boost Social Security benefits for select retirees
Clinton's Social Security reforms call for wealthier individuals to pay more into the program (which she would accomplish by lifting the payroll tax earning cap), while simultaneously boosting Social Security benefits for lower-income and disadvantaged persons.
In particular, Clinton has been fighting for larger benefits for women and caregivers. Women are more often than not the caregivers of children within a family, and they more commonly take time off to care for sick family members. Come retirement these years off from the workforce put women at an economic disadvantage to their male counterparts. Putting more money into the pockets of female retirees could shore up their ability to meet their month-to-month expenses and work its way through the economy through increased consumption.
10. Financial system reforms
Finally, Clinton's financial system reforms are expected to put the U.S. economy on more solid footing. Some of Clinton's proposals include a risk fee on the nation's largest financial institutions, the closure of the Volcker Rule loophole that allows banks to invest billions of taxpayer-backed dollars into hedge funds, and imposing a tax on high-frequency trading which can destabilize the stock market. Clinton believes these changes will stabilize the financial market and better prepare it for future recessionary shocks.
Would it work?
Of course, the big question is whether or not these policies would lead to an increase in economic growth.
On one hand, infrastructure and manufacturing investments have historically been shown to drive economic growth and job creation. Additionally, Clinton's focus on simplifying life for small businesses, while giving students and educators a path to succeed, could result in considerably higher economic growth than where we're seeing now.
On the other hand, deciphering where the funding will come from is the biggest concern. Clinton has offered a number of initiatives designed to have wealthy Americans pay more, but this alone may not fund her numerous proposals in manufacturing, infrastructure, education, and within rural communities.
Is Clinton's economic plan right for the U.S. economy? Now that you have the facts, it's up to you and the nearly 219 million registered voters to decide.